Tom Coates, bored defender of weblogs…

I don’t know whether it’s articles like these (on why people give up weblogs) that I get annoyed by or responses like this from 2lmc, but either way I’m pissed. I don’t know how obvious it has to be before people get it – lots of people have weblogs and find value in them, and – yes – lots of people don’t! This is a shock to precisely no one! Moreover, there has never been anything on the web that some people have liked and some haven’t. Every single online community, bulletin board, mailing-list, online social-networking tool, web-application or published site ever made has had people who start using them and then stop. There’s even an industry word for it: “churn”.

Getting three people’s comments on why they don’t read BBC News might be an interesting read but it wouldn’t be a story. It wouldn’t reveal anything particularly good or ill about BBC News. And anyone who was seriously using such a piece to illustrate their own counter-factual hobby-horse would just look highly selective in their source material, slightly duplicitous in their arguments or basically a bit stupid. Why is this any different?

17 replies on “Tom Coates, bored defender of weblogs…”

blogs are/were often mistaken for transient media interactions, like a phone chat. When users realize they are more like phone logs or obscure literary mags, most follllllks under the impression of ephemerality run run run away.
A warm embrace to you twenty-fourth-century bit archaeologists. May I fuurther state that Billy Bragg singlehandedly justifies the preservation and entreasurement of the culture of the UK,as viewed by a middle-aged post baby-boom Yank.
Kissy kissy and please do note that this calls for a special blend of psychology and extreme violence. Twentieth century interpreters are invited. Happy St. Paddy’s to yez.

But do you have the slightest evidence for any of that? Technorati stacks up another few thousand weblogs every day. I’m not saying that people don’t stop weblogging, because they do, just that the figures I’ve seen with regard to the take-up, maintenance and giving up of weblogs suggest that many more new people take it up than give it up. I’m quite happy to be wrong here – I don’t have any particular desire to see everyone in the world weblogging – but blind nay-saying on the basis of a couple of people expressing the reasons it wasn’t for them isn’t useful! It would be like me talking about why heterosexual sex isn’t really that hot or interesting and people using that to justify why we should all be gay.

Tommy Cooper gag that I use when having this argument with people:
“I went to doctor and said ‘Doctor, it hurts when i do this [lifts arm]’… the doctor said, ‘well don’t do it then'”.

Everyone¥s looking for the next Big Thing– pundits debating whether or not something will take over the world, rather than evaluating the thing itself in light of the people/tasks for which it is suited.
It¥s irritating and irrelevant, I agree.

Two morals
If you want to read reasonable, articulate articles on weblogging, you can do no better than to read Tom Coates. If you want to read reasonable, articulate articles on same-sex relationships in soap operars, you can do no worse than…

Why get pissed by a bunch of quotes, or even the article in question? It’s just a view and I’m sure people would understand it’s not representative of the whole blogo-whatever.
Without abstraction, your comment kinda represents a weblog jingoism. A reflexive reaction, akin to those folks who defend the actions or principles of their country of birth. I’m sure in some cases things are worth defending, but to get angry and denounce stuff just because a person gave their view, or a whole weblog post uses quotes -out of context- is a bit rash.
I thought the set of interviews were quite interesting, not very hostile at all and the individuals who gave their opinions seem to be credible.

I’m with Gummi on this one. I really don’t see what the problem with the piece is, especially given Giles’s track record of being an honest and curious reporter of online life, rather than someone just trying to slam something. Reporting on the problems with blogging is not only just as valid as the benefits but vital if the medium is going to adapt to those problems and reach more people, surely?

I have stop/started weblogs for all the reasons mentioned by the interviewees – it’s a hassle tech-wise, I sound like a twat, nobody reads it – so they have my sympathies in some respects. Unless you gain some personal satisfaction from doing it, why bother? Someone giving up on an activity is no reflection on the activity itself.

I have met Giles a few times and I think he’s a lovely man. And there is nothing intrinsically bad about reporting a few people’s reasons for quitting weblogging. But it’s not really reporting to find three people who say something unless all you are – in fact – reporting is what those three people think. You can’t do a lot with it. If it was an impromptu survey, then that might be interesting. If it cited information (that is available) about churn and the like then that would be interesting and useful. As it is, it’s a perfectly simple little piece reporting what three editorially selected members of the public think about smoething.
I’m more than happy with reporting on the problems with weblogging. I’d actually be delighted if someone actually did it! And I think that’s where I get irritated, because 2lmc’s little selective quotations from the vox pops are being used to slam weblogs and webloggers. If they used statistics or any kind of evidence then I’d be delighted to listen, but if they’re not going to do so, then what exactly are they doing? Basically, they’re stating opinions (which is their right) and also being a bit rude (which is also their right). It’s also my right in return to point out that the evidence they have wouldn’t back up ANY particular assertion and that if they keep being rude then they’re just going to alienate a lot of people without actually doing anything to improve the world they find so frustrating.

And Stuart – you’re absolutely right! Someone stopping doing something is no reflection on the thing itself. I totally agree! So that being the case: where’s the story? If it’s ‘three people stopped weblogging because they felt like twats’, then that’s fine. 2lmc’s blech on the other hand (and – if he’s trying to draw a conclusion from it – Giles) was precisely trying to argue that them doing something WAS a reflection on the thing itself – and the other people doing it! That’s precisely what I’m saying that they shouldn’t do!

Maybe I’m being selective here as well, but I didn’t notice a statement saying this or that opinion cited was a reflection of weblogs -or the state of them.
There might be an undercurrent or a history of entries here and there on the sites, which point to that conclusion. I think it’s fair to take the posts in context. In this case, 2lmc have their pith and bubble and you can see the swipes coming from afar -really, an argument that you don’t have to enter that URI in your browser or subscribe to the RSS if it’s really that bothersome, is very true.
I suppose it comes down to an idea of constructive or destructive criticism, and since there’s so little out there anyway, maybe one gravitates towards the more destructive kind because it exists. In some ways, I get the feeling that you and 2lmc are Hero and Nemesis (and that could be switched).
You know, as a sidenote, I could easily imagine Celebrity Weblog Deathmatch. Coates vs. 2lmc (tag team), Pilgrim vs. Winer and a grand Warbloggers free-for-all. It just goes to show how far weblogs have matured when one can think in those terms.

no, no evidence at all that I’m aware of Tom – it’s just my opinion. There really is, in my personal experience, a point where one realizes what one wrote two years ago (for example, after midnight on St. Patrick’s while a tad boozed-up) will still be hanging around in cyberspace causing trouble, and this realization comes as a surprise.
That surprise will affect different people differently, I think, and surely some will hang it up if the surprise is akin to the librarian found posing for a B&D site or somesuch that makes work or homelife difficult.
and feel free to disregard my boozy dada bonhomie, above. thankfully, no-one was hurt in the manufacturing of that comment.

Many eons ago, before the era of blogs, there were hardcoded online diaries and some guy had a site which, like a dead letter office, collected old diaries and reviewed their last entries.
My point being – same old, same old. The reasons are always relatively interesting, however.
What do you mean, URL??? Do you expect me to look it up? (Well. I did, actually, but I couldn’t find it fast enough).

Um, Tom…
Exactly which part of the phrase “Go go out-of-context quoting” weren’t you following?
He’s joking (and given your habit of endlessly complaining about 2lmc, possibly doing so specifically for your benefit), and your failure to get the gag doesn’t make *them* look foolish, if you get my drift.

Irrelevant blogs or “blogs” are the same as everyday life and everyday people I suppose. Some blogs are the polystyrene worms of the internet, as some people are the polystyrene worms of life (as in they are just the packing, light and fluffy but with no edible qualities). Lots of blogs (mine not as yet included:-)) have some real content.

i hope i don’t give up weblogs later, it’s a place where i can share what i’m thinking, my daily days and about the dutch ppl sometime, i just like to post something because writing is my hobby too 🙂

Comments are closed.